Monday, November 15, 2010

Magical Thinking in High Places

by Rich Miles

Have you ever had something - anything, any topic - turn into a virtual obsession? Your mind latches onto a thought, an idea, a question, and you just can't let go of it?

It can be really annoying to the normal mind (the abnormal mind takes this in stride - it's the way things always are for lots of mental patients). But quite often, you just turn the issue over and over and over, with no progress on an answer or resolution for the longest kind of time.

But then, when you DO finally reach something like an answer, it's sort of like an orgasm - a great rush and release of anxiety and tension, and a feeling of real accomplishment in the realm of thought.

Well, I just had one of those. Let me elaborate:

Ever since George W. Bush became a national figure back in late '99, into 2000, I have wondered something. In fact, there were lots of things I wondered about him, but there was this one main thing I couldn't come to grips with, to wit:

How could George W. Bush stand in front of a camera, or in front of a crowd of at least putatively intelligent people, and LIE HIS ASS OFF to them, repeatedly, and in great detail sometimes, and just without any apparent shame or embarrassment - just LIE, say things that were, to most normal human beings, obviously not factual. I mean, how could he do that, day in and day out, and never or rarely get caught in his own lies, and never show any contrition for doing so, and on the occasions when he was caught, how could he simply say that the catchor was wrong, that he either didn't say that, or if he did say it then it was true? How could he do that? Most of us can't, at least not for that long and with that much conviction. We may be able to lie, but not many of us can keep it up for that long without either tripping up on our lies, or having our listeners laugh us off the podium etc.

So how does he do it, I asked myself? And just last night, after he's been out of the White House for nearly two years, and after he's written a book that has served as a forum for even more of his lies, it came to me: Bush lies so effectively because he doesn't know he's lying!

And the reason he doesn't know he's lying is that he is a victim - or perhaps practitioner would be more accurate - of a psychological disorder/phenomenon known in the psych biz as magical thinking.

Yup, it's a real phenomenon - though to refer to this particular syndrome as "real" is almost laughably ironic - and despite this rather lengthy intro to the actual thesis of this essay, I encourage, in fact implore you to read this Wikipedia explanation of magical thinking.

OK, ya back from that? Well, I want to offer this shorter layman's definition of magical thinking: It's when you think that a thing is true simply because you think it's true, without any proof or evidence or reason. It's sorta like what the Xtians call "faith" - which, if one reads the Wikipedia piece above, is exactly what is defined.

But back to the original premise: that GWB engages in magical thinking. How else to explain how Shrub could completely ignore all or most of his military advisors, and insist that we invade Iraq? How to explain his insistence that taxes be severely cut in wartime?

How to explain his new book, and the disagreement of several world leaders with the content of the book? How to explain how he could so thoroughly balls up the recovery of New Orleans after the hurricane, yet believe he was doing a good job at it?

The list could go on forever, but the main premise is: Bush thinks things that no one else in the whole world (or at least no one who isn't as deranged as he is) would believe.

And he was the leader of the most powerful nation in the world for 8 years! And as a result, it's my premise that we are no longer the most powerful nation in the world. We are in decline, and although I'm sure many Republicans and some Democrats will disagree, it's my contention that the decline is directly and specifically George W. Bush's fault. Certainly the Dept. of Homeland Security, one of the hugest money-wasters in the history of the WORLD, is Bush's fault. The ineffectiveness of Homeland Security not only could be predicted, it WAS predicted, by several congresspersons including Russ Feingold (his senatorial career R.I.P.)

But Bush thought, magically, that a single bureaucracy encompassing all the OTHER existing bureaucracies would somehow be more efficient and workable. I think evidence since has demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt that this has not and is not so.

No, folks, America is falling apart, and the bulk of the reason for it is the 8 years of GWB's "reign". Even now that Bush is out of technical power, he still has influence over the management of our nation. The new book is proof of that - some people are claiming it's a guide for the new century, and god forbid if that turns out to be an activated thought.

But anyway - now that you're an expert on magical thinking, re-examine the past 10 years, most especially that 8-year Bush interregnum, and see if it doesn't all make more sense if viewed in that light.

Sadly, if you're a sensible person, I think it will.

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